Gary's Reviews > Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #250

Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #250 by Scott H. Andrews
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Four lauded fantasy veterans fill the pages of the double-length 250th issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies; K.J. Parker and Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam manage to steal the show.
The title of K.J. Parker’s latest story – “The Thought That Counts” – basically telegraphs its intentions to the reader: we can be fairly sure that we’re in for a “no good deed goes unpunished” kind of story, but does that necessarily mean the punishment is undeserved? Parker’s narrator, as instantly charming and ingratiating as he is, is so cocksure as he easily and successfully defends an artist from charges of witchcraft that you could write “but, actually” backwards in black permanent marker on his forehead and he wouldn’t see it in the mirror. This is one of those stories where you can guess at what’s coming and still enjoy the ride.
“Angry Kings” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam is like a good glass of Scotch whisky: a lot of big, complex flavors distilled to their boldest essences. Lady Magritte is a princess trying to reconcile the kindly, loving father she knew as a child with the paranoid, belligerent monarch he became. Upon escaping the confines of the castle, she discovers the truth about his change of character, and embarks on a quest to save him from himself. The story is told in first person, in the kind of non-linear way people often relate personal anecdotes, where getting at the emotional truth of the story is more important than arriving at the end.
Margaret Ronald’s “Silence in Blue Glass” is an Agatha Christie-like whodunnit with a goblin detective at its center. The worldbuilding and character development are top notch, though I wish the story had been a bit longer – the sleuthing part of the story evolves late, and hustles too quickly to its conclusion. Similarly, Richard Parks’ “An Account of the Madness of the Magistrate, Chengdhu Village” constructs a captivating setting and establishes an evocative tone and fascinating characters, only to wave past the meat of the story just as its claws began to dig in.
Overall, a memorable anniversary issue worthy of the magazine’s sterling reputation.
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Reading Progress

April 26, 2018 – Started Reading
April 26, 2018 – Shelved
April 26, 2018 – Finished Reading

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